English Muffins

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Happy Freak’n New Year! Do you have a houseful of people? Are you running out of breakfast food ideas? My guests have flown the coup, but since everyone is still on vacation, I feel the need to enhance the daily offerings just a bit. This recipe for English Muffins is a fun. It’s rarely made at home, but is totally worth the effort. If you really want to go all-out, serve them with homemade jam.

The recipe is meant to be made on a griddle. Cast iron is the best surface for griddle cooking because it holds heat well, browns evenly, and if properly seasoned, needs no oil. Seasoning keeps the food from sticking to the cooking surface by filling in and smoothing out the roughness we can’t see with the naked eye. If you don’t have cast iron, you can use a non-stick skillet or you can bake them in the oven. For oven baking the dough needs to be adjusted. See the end of the recipe for instructions.

The recipe calls for English muffin rings, which are available in specialty cookware stores, and online(try Bakers Catalogue). However when I was a kid, my mom and I saved tuna fish cans, washed them impeccably, and trimmed the tops and bottoms off to make our own ring molds. It’s up to you. Personally, I prefer the cheaper method.

General Baking Note:
When baking with yeast, the water should be warmed just enough so that you can hold your finger in it without crying. The temperature should be about 100˚F, which is just above body temperature. If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast and your dough will never rise. If the water is cold, the recipe will still work but the dough will take longer to rise. This is thought by many bakers (myself included) to be preferable, since the longer a dough rises, the more flavor it develops.

INGREDIENTS

1-1/2 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 TB. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 TB. butter
2 cups all-purpose flour

METHOD

  1. In a large bowl combine warm water, yeast, sugar, and mix it well. Add salt, butter, flour, and beat together for 8-10 minutes, until a thin batter is formed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  2. Heat griddle over high heat. Test the griddle by sprinkling on a little water. If it sizzles and evaporates, it’s ready. If your griddle is not seasoned, oil it lightly with some vegetable oil or pan spray. Lower the heat to medium. Place the muffin rings on the griddle and fill them half–way with muffin batter. Cover the rings loosely with foil and cook until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Using a spatula or tongs, flip the muffin and ring over. Cover and cook this side another 5 minutes. Cool completely before splitting and serving.

To adjust the recipe for oven baking:
Add enough flour in step 1 to make a firm dough rather than a thin batter. Then after the dough has doubled in volume, pat it out on a floured surface, cut it out with a circle cutter, and place the muffins on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 400˚F until golden brown.

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